Last year the Minnesota Opera showcased the world premiere of a new opera based on Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining, the starting point for an unsettling adaptation by Stanley Kubrick starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.
The operatic version was composed by Paul Moravec with a libretto by Mark Campbell. Moravec won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2004 for his work Tempest Fantasy.
The opera is an adaptation not of Kubrick’s movie but of King’s book—although the movie, firmly embedded in the minds of virtually everyone in the audience, will surely have an effect. As an example, the famous words “Here’s Johnny!,” shouted by Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in a moment of frenzy, is not in the novel and thus does not appear in the opera either. King has never had any affection for Kubrick’s version of his novel, so it’s noteworthy that the prolific author “maintained libretto approval and gave Campbell the green light 24 hours after receiving the final version.”
The Shining capped off the Minnesota Opera’s 2015-2016 season, with the premiere taking place on May 7, 2016.
The reviews have been respectful to more than respectful. In the magazine Opera News, Joshua Rosenblum was effusive about the production, saying that “Moravec proves to be a masterful musical dramatist.” He added that “Brian Mulligan does the seemingly impossible—he actually makes you forget Jack Nicholson” and that “watching Vega’s Danny step slowly toward the bathtub with the drawn curtain in the forbidden room 217 was as riveting as anything I’ve ever seen in a theater. “
Fun fact: Rosenblum did not mistype Room 237, nor did the librettist commit a flub—in King’s novel the locus of dread is actually Room 217.
Kelly Kaduce, who played the role of Wendy, discussed the work on the CBS Minnesota affiliate WCCO:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Breaking Bad,’ the Opera
Live performances of the terrifying nightmare music Kubrick selected for The Shining